Not so close encounters of the third kind: visual perspective and imagined social interaction

Lynden K Miles, Brittany M Christian, Nomita Masilamani, Luiza Volpi, C Neil Macrae

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
12 Downloads (Pure)


Via mental simulation, future previews have been shown to optimize behavioral selection and enhance task performance. Yet little is known about the critical factors that determine exactly how and when imagination impacts behavior. Noting the theoretical importance of vantage point (i.e., field vs. observer perspective) during mental imagery, here we explored the possibility that spatial visual perspective influences the real-time behavioral correlates of simulated (i.e., imagined) events. Participants were instructed to imagine positive and negative social encounters from either a field or an observer vantage point. Throughout each imagined interaction, postural movement in the anterioposterior (i.e., front–back) plane served as a real-time index of approach–withdrawal behavior. The results revealed that mental simulations were accompanied by functionally adaptive behavior (i.e., approach or withdrawal) but only when events were imagined from a field perspective. The theoretical and practical implications of these findings are considered.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)558-565
Number of pages8
JournalSocial Psychological and Personality Science
Issue number5
Early online date8 Nov 2013
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2014


  • social cognition
  • social interaction
  • perspective taking
  • person perception
  • automatic/implicit processes


Dive into the research topics of 'Not so close encounters of the third kind: visual perspective and imagined social interaction'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this